Once officers were in defendant’s computer with a search warrant looking for drug evidence, they could cursorily look at each file, and, in the process found child pornography. [This is akin to a plain view.] With that, the search stopped, and another search warrant was sought for child pornography. This was all legal. United States v. Grinder, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104117 (D. Md. June 21, 2018):
The Fourth Circuit has previously held that a forensic search of a laptop, authorized by a warrant, includes “the authority to open and cursorily view each file.” Williams, 592 F.3d at 523. Applying this reasoning here, the images of child pornography found in the course of analyzing the laptop need not be suppressed. Law enforcement was justified in forensically searching the laptop because the warrant authorized such a search, and because evidence of a drug crime, or the Minor Victim’s sexual abuse, could have been located anywhere on the laptop. In other words, “the observation of child pornography within several of [the laptop’s] files did not involve an intrusion on [Grinder’s] protected privacy interests beyond that already authorized by the warrant.” Williams, 592 F.3d at 523. And it was truly just an observation. Once the images were discovered, the search was immediately suspended pending a federal warrant specifically authorizing a search for child pornography. More still, if the images were lawfully observed, it was lawful for the magistrate judge to consider them when issuing the federal warrant, making the federal warrant valid, and so too the cell phone search it authorized.